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Special Unit Helps Donna Police during Standoff Situation

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DONNA – A special law enforcement unit aided the Donna Police Department to de-escalate a standoff situation Monday morning.

It happened around 4:00 a.m. in the 500 block of Sunset Blvd. A victim called police saying a suspect fired several shots then barricaded himself inside a house.

There were a total of 10 people inside the house including three children. Two men and two women were arrested after Law Enforcement Emergency Regional Response Team members entered the house.

Police said the ordeal started as an argument between two men. No one was hurt.

Fernando Silva is charged with deadly conduct and Michael Carter Garcia is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. The two women arrested were not charged with a crime.

San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said the events that took place Monday morning show why his special unit, the Law Enforcement Emergency Regional Response Team (LEERRT), is necessary.

 “In this case, we had kids inside the house, we knew that,” Gonzalez said. “We had individuals with a criminal history inside the house. We knew that. We knew that there was a barricaded gunman.”

Donna police called them in after realizing how sensitive the situation was.

“Upon entering house, the LEERRT team was able to rescue the three kids, the 6, 8 and 3-year-olds and detain all four adults in the deadly conduct,” Donna Police Capt. Rick Suarez said.

The LEERRT team is made up of officers from 18 different agencies across the Rio Grande Valley. They’re funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

The members train at least twice a month on how to handle situations like the one that happened Monday morning.

“We’re able to resolve many situations like this because of the manpower we have. The agency of San Juan couldn’t do this by themselves, not one single agency can do it by themselves,” Gonzalez said.

Last year, LEERRT responded 32 times from calls to serve high-risk warrants to de-escalating standoff situations.

“This is something that happens, has been happening more frequently,” Gonzalez said.

Donna police said small departments depend on the highly-trained officers.

“That’s their specialty. We know exactly who to call in incidents like that. And they’ve been involved in hundreds of tactical incidents like that here in the Valley,” Suarez said.

They also said one of the suspects in the Donna standoff turned out to be a suspect they had been looking for in connection to a liquor store robbery in San Juan. They added that’s another reason why the LEERRT team is important is because criminals operate across the Valley.

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